Treating Dental Flourosis In Children

Have you seen tiny white streaks on your children’s teeth?

This is the first sign of dental fluorosis.  Staining and spotting which may darken progressively as a result of fluorosis, are permanent.

What exactly is dental fluorosis?

This is a condition elicited by taking too much fluoride into the system during tooth formation.  The critical exposure time is between 1 and 4 years of age. Early symptoms involve white specks or streaks on the teeth but in the severe form, black and brown stains with mottling and pitting of the enamel are witnessed

Excess fluoride exposure can come from:

  • Exposure to fluoridated water (in high concentrations)
  • Excessive use of fluoride toothpaste
  • Swallowing fluoridated toothpaste in young children
  • Formula mixed with fluoridated water
  • Exposure to pollution from fluoride coal
  • Consuming brick tea chronically.

Fluorosis occurs prior to the time the teeth have erupted.  Scientific studies show that when children between 3-9 months have consumed a significant amount of fluoride from excessive fluoride in water and infant formula, the risk of mild enamel fluorosis is elevated.

Once teeth have broken past the gums into the oral cavity, fluoride significantly cuts down on cavities and enamel erosions. Because teeth decay is a global health problem, it has not been advised to remove fluoride from toothpaste or to decrease the usage.  Research has born out the findings that fluoride in toothpaste, mouthwash and public drinking water is one of the most important techniques to prevent dental decay. Studies show that fluoridated water consumed by children have improved dental health as adults.

Fluoride acts to strengthen the enamel but it also breaks down bacteria adherent to teeth and improves damaged teeth from the decay proess.

Fluorosis occurs more in rural regions where drinking water (at higher levels than 1 ppm-part per million) comes from shallow wells or hand pumps

Prevention of Teeth Staining and Discoloration

  • Until after the first year of life, infants should have formulas reconstituted with non-fluoridated water to diminish fluorosis risk. If possible, breast-feeding is more advantageous.
  • Parents are advised to limit toothpaste to pea-sized amounts or less on the toothbrush.  It is further advised to carefully watch the child’s tooth brushing to ensure that the toothpaste is not swallowed.
  • Brush twice daily with fluoride toothpaste.
  • Decrease sugar and sugary foods in the diet.

Treatment

Superficial stains are treated by:

  • Bleaching
  • Microabrasion

Internal stains are treated by:

  • Porcelain veneers
  • Composite restorations